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14 December 2017

The top place to visit next year is… Newcastle

Rough Guides are a very popular English-language series of travel books and websites. Every year they name a list of top destinations to visit in the next 12 months – and they suggest northern UK city Newcastle for 2018.

The city beats Russia, South Korea, Chile and Malawi. The Guide says it is a winner because of its nightlife, restaurants, fantastic museums, architecture and also the friendliness of the people who live there. Another reason it won is that Newcastle is hosting the Great Exhibition In The North next year with its neighbouring city Gateshead, which is just on the other side of the River Tyne.

City chief Nick Forbes said the exhibition would be one of the biggest events in the country, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world to learn about art, culture, design and innovation. "We are looking forward to putting on a warm welcome," he said.

What do you know about Newcastle?

  • People who live in and around the city are called Geordies
  • The "Geordie accent" is very distinctive
  • The city's nightlife is famous, partly because people go clubbing when it's cold in T shirts and thin dresses with no coats
  • The city's sights include the Angel of the North and some amazing bridges

New UK City of Culture named

Have you ever heard of Coventry? If not, you will soon as it's been named the UK's City of Culture for 2021. This is a special Government scheme that helps cities which have suffered economic decline, by focusing on the arts and culture. Winners attract investment and tourism. The current city of culture, Hull, has had events every day of the year, and attracted around GBP 1bn investment as well as a GBP 60m boost to its economy during the event.

Coventry, which is in the UK's Midlands, was bombed in the war and rebuilt with modern buildings and shopping malls. Its Cathedral is modern, built next to the ruins of the original building. The city was once famous for its industry, but by the 1980s it was in such decline that a ska band called The Specials wrote and recorded a song called Ghost Town about it.

UK weather closes schools and creates giant apples

It has snowed in the UK this week, and that has created chaos. Snow is quite rare in most parts of the country and so we do not make major preparations for it each year, unlike countries which expect to get snow for weeks and months every winter.

So a major snowfall at the weekend left many country roads blocked and schools closed for a day or two. Drivers were also stuck on major motorways.

Another side effect of unpredictable UK weather is that one of our supermarkets is selling giant apples which are more than twice as big as usual. The Braeburn apples were affected by a late frost, which meant there are 10 per cent fewer than usual. But because the trees had fewer apples on them, the apples grew much bigger. Each one weighs up to 450g, compared with the usual 170g.

Man fools Trip Advisor

The top-rated restaurant in London on Trip Advisor has been something called The Shed in Dulwich. It has had months of great reviews, and photos of amazing food – and it was almost impossible to book a table.

But now it turns out that The Shed is just a garden shed – and all the good reviews came from the owner, Oobah Butler, and his friends. The photos of the food were created with shaving foam, bleach and even Mr Butler's foot. Amazingly, he even opened the Shed to serve microwaved meals for a while, and got people booking to come back.

In another strange social media story, the fire service had to rescue a man this week who had stuck his head into a microwave oven. Jay Swingler and his friend Romell Henry had been completing extreme Christmas challenges for their YouTube channel every day.

Mr Swingler filled the microwave with a product sold to repair walls, put his head in a plastic bag, and then put it inside the microwave. But the mix set and Mr Swingler had trouble breathing through the plastic tube which was supplying air. His friends spent 90 minutes trying to free him before calling the fire brigade, which had problems getting him out and had to consult experts on a video call.

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